'It's one of the options we are considering,' said Peter Dickson, 39, the group's managing director and great-grandson of the firm's founder, Peter Yates. But it is understood that Yates is in the process of appointing the whole spectrum of advisers - stockbroker, merchant bank, public relations firm and so on - that invariably signal an imminent flotation.
'That would not surprise me,' said John Jenkins of JP Jenkins, the City firm that has matched buyers with sellers of Yates shares under Stock Exchange rule 535(2) since 1988, when the company began to expand out of its Lancashire heartland to Yorkshire and the Midlands. 'They have been reasonably successful through the recession. Now they are ready to expand further,' Mr Jenkins said.
Profits for the year to March are expected to rise to more than pounds 3.2m, compared with pounds 2.8m the year before. That would pave the way for a public share sale in July. Profits in the traditionally quieter first half to last September rose from pounds 1.25m to pounds 1.4m.
Yates, based in Oldham, is famous for selling champagne by the tankard and Australian and South African port and sherry from the cask. It was one of the first to light on the charms of Australian table wine.